I am a regular speaker on software development best practices and trends. I have presented at major industry conferences and to software groups at private companies. Keynotes can be scheduled as a single event or as a series. Online keynotes are also available.

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Secrets of the Agile Scaling Gurus

As small-team success becomes more commonplace with Scrum and Kanban, organizations are shifting their focus to succeeding with Agile development on large projects. Many organizations have tried SAFe, and others have experimented with Nexus/SoS, LeSS, DaD, and other approaches. Yet few organizations appear to be fully satisfied with any of their approaches. Why not? What are these organizations missing? In this presentation, award winning author Steve McConnell unpacks more than 20 years of experience guiding organizations as they transition from small projects to large. He explains the key principles underlying all successful scaling approaches. He identifies common scaling pitfalls. And he explains what is really different about scaling projects in Agile environments.

Lessons Learned in Agile Transformation

As Agile development continues to cross the chasm, Web companies, SaaS companies, and mobile-centric categories have fully transitioned to Agile—and have done it easily. Meanwhile, companies in traditional industries are struggling with their Agile transformations—including companies in healthcare, hardware, manufacturing, energy, aerospace, scientific instruments and many other industries. In this presentation, award-winning author Steve McConnell describes lessons his company has learned first-hand helping companies transform their organizations to become more Agile in ways that are right for them.

Secrets of World-Class Software Organizations

Construx consultants work with literally hundreds of software organizations each year. Among these organizations a few stand out as being truly world class. They are exceptional in their ability to meet their software development goals and exceptional in the contribution they make to their companies’ overall business success. Do world class software organizations operate differently than average organizations? In Construx’s experience, the answer is a resounding “YES.” In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell reveals the technical, management, business, and cultural secrets that make a software organization world class.

Seven Unbreakable Rules of Software Leadership

Congratulations. You’ve earned a job as a software executive. Now what? Do you know what it takes to keep it? More important, do you know what it takes to excel? After more than 10 years of working with top software executives across a full spectrum of software-intensive industries, Steve McConnell has found a method for predicting which technical executives will be successful in their organizations and which will end up looking for different positions. McConnell describes the seven crucial rules that lead software executives first to satisfactory performance and ultimately to superior performance and superior results.

Stranger than Fiction: Case Studies in Software Engineering Judgment

High-profile software project disasters have been commonplace for decades. Failed projects are followed by hand-wringing and cries of, “Where did we go wrong?” The people involved in the failed projects seem unable to determine the root causes of failure. Post mortem analyses typically settle on conspicuously incorrect answers, such as “We didn’t test enough,” “We should have been more agile,” or “We should have motivated our staff better.” The topic of judgment is ignored in the software engineering literature, yet development of sound professional judgment is key to correct and useful diagnoses of past failures and essential to creating future successes. In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell uses the “Four Core Influences” framework from his upcoming book, Software Engineering Essentials, to dissect published reports of software project outcomes. He demonstrates how to use sound software engineering judgment to vastly improve understanding of software project dynamics, which in turn leads to correct diagnosis of failure, more effective corrective actions for projects already underway, and a significantly improved chance of success on every project.

Measuring Software Productivity

One of the most elusive objectives in software business management is measuring productivity. Executives seek to measure it, while many software staff seek to avoid it. Which side is right, and is there a happy medium on this controversial subject? What are the research findings related to measuring productivity of software organizations, teams, and individuals? What measurement techniques have been found to work in practice? What are the organizational benefits and pitfalls? In this presentation, award winning author Steve McConnell summarizes the results of nearly 20 years of research, discussion, and application in this critical-yet-obstacle-filled area — and he presents surprising conclusions that are more effective and more readily available than you might think.

10 Deadly Sins of Agile Estimation

The average software project overruns its planned budget and schedule by at least 50 percent. Agile development, including Scrum, provides potentially useful estimation tools, but in practice little work is done that could truly be called “estimation.” Some Agile teams are even actively hostile toward estimation (see #NoEstimates). In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell presents 10 of the worst ways estimates go wrong on Agile projects and describes rules of thumb for dramatically improving estimation accuracy.


Seven Diagrams Every Software Professional Should Understand

What makes Agile projects succeed some times and Waterfall projects succeed other times? How can you assess the real value of software development’s next hot topic? How can you tell whether your project will be successful? Sometimes a picture truly is worth 1000 words. In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell presents a complete model of software engineering in seven essential diagrams–diagrams that collectively explain software quality, software requirements and design, Agile development and Waterfall development; risk management, and many other essential software topics.

Managing Technical Debt

Most successful software development organizations accumulate at least some “technical debt”–shortcuts that were expedient at the time they were taken, but that create an ongoing maintenance obligation that slows future progress. Why does this always happen, and can it be avoided? When does it make sense to take on debt, and when should debt be avoided? Is all technical debt equal, or is some worse than others? How much debt is too much? And how do you get out of debt? Steve McConnell, the award winning author of Code Complete and Software Estimation addresses these questions and more in this cutting-edge technical presentation.

Software Estimation in an Agile World

“Agile projects can’t be estimated accurately,” some agile practitioners say. “Estimation is not Agile.” Are they right? To take advantage of Agile development, do you have to give up the estimation that your business needs? In this talk, the award-winning author of Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, cuts the Gordian knot of Agile Estimation. Differentiating between agile practice and agile culture, Steve McConnell describes common impediments to estimation on Agile projects, and he highlights key practices that lead to a Bold New World of Agile Software Estimation–providing far better results than were ever seen on waterfall projects.

10 Most Powerful Ideas in Software Development

As software engineering approaches its 50th birthday, do we know which software development ideas matter most? In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell identifies 10 of the most powerful ideas in software engineering. McConnell explains how the 10 ideas form the foundation for effective software development, and he shows how practices ranging from the waterfall model to extreme programming measure up. He uses these key ideas to explain which currently popular software engineering practices will withstand the test of time, and which are fleeting fads. This talk will give software developers, QA specialists, and managers an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day rush of their work and gain insight into the key issues of software development.

The Journey to Organization-Wide Scrum

Scrum practitioners know what a successful Scrum project looks like. After a few successful pilot projects, many organizations struggle when they try to roll out Scrum more broadly. What does it take to roll out Scrum organization-wide? How much does by-the-book Scrum change, and what stays the same? Where do you draw the line between ScrumBut vs. necessary adaptation? What are the common stumbling blocks, and how do you overcome them? Who has to be involved? In this presentation, award-winning author Steve McConnell shares a typical organization’s gap analysis between small-pilot-project- success and consistent-large-project-success. He describes the work needed from technical contributors, technical leaders, executive managers, and other business partners to implement Scrum. And he describes the path that has allowed Construx’s clients to realize the benefits of Scrum in larger teams, geographically distributed teams, and more complex organizations.

Software Development’s Low Hanging Fruit

Everyone knows that better software development practices pay off in the long run, but what if you need improvements now? In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell describes strategies that produce improvements in schedule, quality, and development costs in the short term. McConnell identifies the specific technical practices that produce the highest returns on investment, the lowest risks of adoption, and the shortest paths to more successful software projects. McConnell describes the theory behind short-term vs. long-term improvement strategies and presents tips for maximizing your chances of success in adopting these strategies.

Seven Critical Software Insights for C-Level Executives

Technical staff complain that “management doesn’t understand software development.” What are the critical bits of software development knowledge that top executives need to know to support successful software development? Is it even true that C-level executives don’t understand these important ideas? In this talk, Steve McConnell presents 7 critical concepts that top executives need to know to support software project success. He explores common miscommunications between executives and technical staff, and he explains how to communicate these insights to C-level executives in ways that will maximize their acceptance.

Business Case for Improved Software Practices

The average software company spends 2-3 times as much on each software project as best-in-class companies spend to deliver similar capabilities. The average organizations wastes 25% or more of its software budget on projects that are ultimately cancelled. Technical staff members are all-too-aware of the need for improved practices. But how do you make the case to upper management? In this talk, best selling author and industry leader Steve McConnell explains the dollars and cents of software process improvement and maps out the need for improved practices in a way that is meaningful to business executives.